Observations from an Overwhelmed Christian

14 Jan

Overwhelming WavesIt’s January, and I’m supposed to be filled with hope for the New Year. Instead, I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of chaos and confusion. I am overwhelmed.

Or so I thought.

I looked up the word “overwhelmed” in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary–the standard in book publishing–and guess what? It doesn’t exist. Then I deleted the “-ed” and searched for “overwhelm.” Here’s how Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged defines it:

To Overwhelm:

  • To overthrow, overturn, upset
  • to cover over completely (as by a great wave) :  overflow and bury beneath :  engulf, submerge
  • to overcome by great superiority of force or numbers :  bring to ruin :  destroy, overpower
  • to overpower in thought or feeling :  subject to the grip of an overpowering emotion
  • to project over threateningly or dominatingly

My first observation: Overwhelm is a transitive verb. (Forgive the English lesson.) That means it always takes a direct object. So if I’m being overwhelmed, I’m the direct object in the sentence.

Something has overwhelmed Robin.

Or, if I don’t want to be a direct object, I can rephrase the sentence and make myself the subject, but only if I make the sentence passive.

Robin has been overwhelmed by something.

Do I really want to be passive, though? Not so much.

My second observation: In both of the above sentences, there is something doing the overwhelming. Maybe I would be better served if I could define that something. Here’s a list of the somethings in my life: My writing, my editing, my nearly-remodeled (but not quite) bathroom, my teaching, my kids’ schedules, my housework.

But wait a minute. Do any of those things truly have the power to overwhelm me? Do any of them have any power whatsoever? As much as the unfinished bathroom drives me batty, it is just a bathroom. My writing is supposed to be a joy, not my enemy. Editing—I love that. How could it overwhelm me? I’m in control of my schedule—and my kids’ schedules, too. And the housework? The dust bunnies have not taken up arms against me (allergies notwithstanding).

Tweet this: Feeling #overwhelmed? What does the #Bible say about that? #TrustGod

One could argue that I’m not in control, that those innocuous things truly do pile up and overwhelm. I’m not convinced. Which brings us to:

My third observation: Each definition of “overwhelm” gives us the image of something stronger defeating, overtaking, or destroying something weaker. Hmm. So I’m being defeated by something stronger than I am?

I am weak, but . . . I’m also a believer. And when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). If I had to fight in my own strength, then I’d be in trouble, but greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Maybe I can’t take on the world by myself, but I am not fighting by myself. The Lord Himself fights for me (Exodus 14:14). And maybe sometimes I feel like I have to do this all alone, but wherever I go, the Lord goes with me. He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). What am I afraid of, when God tells me to be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6, et al)? On my own, I can do nothing, but I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

All this brings me to:

My final observation: I am not overwhelmed. I am not defeated. I am not drowning. I may at time feels as though the world is overwhelming me, but the truth is that the Creator of the Universe is on my side, and He’s got this.

My resolution for 2015: To stop saying I’m overwhelmed and instead to speak truth, and to trust God with all of it.

How about you? Do you feel overwhelmed? How do you handle it?DSC_8915-25ed

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories, and a freelance editor at Robins Red Pen. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.


Posted by on January 14, 2015 in devotion, Robin Patchen


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12 responses to “Observations from an Overwhelmed Christian

  1. Pegg Thomas

    January 14, 2015 at 7:14 am

    You go, girl! You’ve got it all worked out … to perfection. His perfection.


  2. Robin Patchen

    January 14, 2015 at 8:23 am

    His perfection is right. Nothing feels worked out, but I have shifted my focus off all the stuff I have to do and back to God. That’s something. Thanks for your encouragement.


  3. Kara (@KaraHunt2015)

    January 14, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Wow … Robin, this is a post worth posting, and reposting again and again. And then some more. Timely. Relevant. Life changing. This is a keeper.


    • Robin Patchen

      January 14, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Thanks, Kara! I learned a lot writing this one.


  4. candicesuepatterson

    January 14, 2015 at 9:23 am

    It’s so easy to let things overwhelm us. Hang in there, Robin. Hugs!


  5. Sharon Srock

    January 15, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I loved this. Its so easy to let the busyness of our lives take us to the mat. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t fight alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robin Patchen

      January 15, 2015 at 9:03 am

      I love it, too, Sharon. Trouble is living it. Still working on that one. Thanks!


  6. Quid Pro Quills

    January 15, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Brings to mind Candice’s Word of The Year 🙂 Trusting our faithful Father to finish in us what He began!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robin Patchen

    January 15, 2015 at 9:04 am

    You’re right, it’s all about trust. Every time I think I trust Him pretty well, He shows me the gaps between my faith and my walk.


  8. thesilverofhisfining

    January 17, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks, Robin. Good words. Truth.

    Liked by 1 person


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